A knight’s main weapon of war is his armor, right? I know, doesn’t seem like it should be called a weapon, so if you want, think of it as a tool of the trade ... of war. But what is armor? Yeah, yeah, we all know - it’s the stuff you put between your skin and the other guy’s weapons, but is it just a matter of armor styles or simply of money.
In a fantasy game, better armor is nearly always simply a matter of money. Let me explain my point, and to do so - I will use comic books! Makes sense, right? Give me a second on this.
Wolverine - sure he heals from anything and he’s a berserker, but how effective would he be without the adamantium? Without claws and bones that cannot be broken, he would be all but useless against Colossus, Doctor Doom or anyone else with the slightest amount of protection. It is the fact that you can’t simply cut him in half or behead him that actually makes him tough to kill, otherwise healing factor of not, he’d be lying in a heap at the beginning of every big fight.
Similar with the Black Panther. We’re still trying to figure out if he is actually supposed to be super strong or just a black Tarzan, but in the comics and movies, it is his vibranium that makes him so tough to kill. Without it, Hawkeye might be able to beat him.
So this is my point - I’ll bet your world either has adamantium and vibranium or substances that are similar. Fletnern does! But let’s take it to the next step: magic! Legend Quest has an enchantment spell that makes things tougher, in fact there are three: harden, harden-steel, and harden-diamond. So even if you didn’t have adamantium, you could still cast harden-diamond on things and it would be like walking around wearing the densest stuff known to man (maybe not densest known to modern man, but still in the top dozen and I do think top natural substance).
Wow! Seems like I’m taking forever to get to the point here, but here it is: If you can enchant leather to be stronger than steel, or find a metal stronger than steel, then why not build your armor out of that stuff? And if you can afford to make your armor out of that stuff, how can you get wounded in the game?
I hear you yelling at that last paragraph - but you didn’t mention criticals. True, but while that Robin Hood movie claims any boy can be taught to find the weak points in a knight’s armor, that job becomes vastly more difficult when you’re wearing a custom built suit of full plate armor. Not only have you covered up what might have at one time been chain instead of plate, you have a suit of armor that the enemy has not seen before. Sure, he will assume that the underarm is weaker than the breastplate, but he will not have been trained to defeat it. Maybe your plates are articulated in a different fashion which makes piercing attacks from the front more difficult, though still possible from behind? Yeah, Robin Hood’s boy wasn’t taught that in forestry school.
But take this to the magic world again, and the undercoat could be made of hell hound hide which is impervious to blades. OK, I’m just making crap up now, but the point remains - Take a look at your warrior characters. Ignoring how much you spent to make sure that your sword does both fire and shock damage, along with delivering a massive poison hit, how much have you invested in your armor? Is +3 enough?
Go talk to your armor smith. You know how much money you have and how much adamantium costs per pound. Start by talking through the finer points of that. Better yet - After you kill that celestial dragon thing, check out its skin. How much armor did it have, and do you have a leather worker good enough to tan that hide into something that can become armor? It is all a matter of money - How much can you afford to endure?
The next post will be about how GMs can make this not work for players. Sort of a point-counterpoint kind of thing.